Copyright © by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.
Featured Image: “The Desire to Create”, by Zhōu Yōu
The elixir tastes of cherry cough syrup and Pepto Bismol. We choke it down, and I watch Mom contort from elderly to middle-aged. We collapse onto the couch. “Now what do we do with our special day?” she asks. I’m so young now. I sit on her lap. “Everything.” “Leave,” she asks, obscured by windstorm dust. The bandit leader grins. “No, señorita. This town burns!” She steps forth, a grim oldtech oddity. “Leave,” she says again, her face stripped to a painted android skull in calavera style. “I’m programmed to kill.” “You’re not like most orcs,” she said. “It’s because I’m fat, right?” She took the soup he passed. “You’re a slab of muscle like most orc men. No, unlike them, I trust you.” “And you’re not like most she-orcs. You have a sense of humor.” “So do you.” “It’s killing you.” On his throne of welded guns, he touches the demonic crown of horns above his brow. “Yes, but with it I am the King of the World. Its savior.” “Its savior, killing billions in genocide.” “Savior and Satan, I am one and the same.” “Is it fun living forever?” “No,” old witch Aga sighs. “It’s a curse. My best friend is reincarnated, and my game is played out.” Little Annette moves her rook. “Checkmate.” “Indeed.” “Maybe reset your pieces?” “Begin anew?” “Then we’ll play again, Friend.” Knives drawn, the brigands approach the lone, old man. He scowls unfastening his wolf cloak. Thrown at them, the pelt transforms into a living, snarling wolf that mauls their leader. “Fools!” the old barbarian says as they flee. “Never heard of a wear-wolf?” She wanted to be human, and I a mermaid. So in the moon harbor we touched the trading stone. But I was tricked. Her sister’s hidden touch traded my remaining human half, and left a full fish. That, merman, is why I am the shark that hunts your kind.